These are strange times indeed. Yesterday at Margaret River a 44-year old Floridian was beaten by an 18-year old Italian in a surfboard riding contest, and the end-of-heat buzzer rang out like a death knell -- not only on the career of the world's greatest ever, but perhaps also on an entire generation.

A touch melodramatic, yes, but the Wild Australian West, like some desolate frontier at the ends of the Earth, seems somehow conducive to such pronouncements. Guns are drawn, a soundtrack penned by Ennio Morricone is borne on the stiff cross-offshores, tragedy is inscribed on the faces of competitors...

Earlier on yesterday, Taj Burrow announced his retirement from the tour. A man has to know when to leave the party; in truth Taj continues to look sprightly and fresh-faced on the dance floor, but when he wakes in the morning -- prematurely, no doubt, to the sounds of an unsettled infant -- he shall surely feel the fresher for his early goodbyes. Kelly Slater looked fired-up in his Round 1 heat, when he was soundly beaten by Kolohe Andino, but there was an air of desperation in his Round 2 defeat to wildcard Leonardo Fioravanti. “If you wanna get to Kelly, you gotta go through Belly," Quik team manager and one of Kelly's closest confidants Stephen Bell is fond of saying. Leonardo, Belly's teenage stepson, got to Kelly alright, and got to the third round at Margaret River -- a long way for a kid from Rome.

Meanwhile John John was sizzling hot in the final heat of Round 1, breezily negotiating the blustery conditions for an 18.87 heat total and the performance of the event so far.

He'll face Caio Ibellli in Round 3 for the second event in a row.

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 3 Match-Ups:

Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)

Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)

Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)

Heat 4: Nat Young (USA) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)

Heat 5: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)

Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)

Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)

Heat 8: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)

Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)

Heat 10: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)

Heat 11: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)

Heat 12: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)